Cancer Patients Rationing & Quitting Their Medications
Back in April we took a look at a series of articles across the media spectrum that discussed the rising costs of cancer in the recession. A recent USA Today piece reports on the consequences of those rising cancer treatment costs patients who have involuntarily had to quit their medications due to financial hardship. One doctor, Dr. Katie Kelley at the University of California in San Francisco, had seen three of her patients whose cancers had been in remission for many years suddenly start to miss appointments and finally come in with serious recurrences of their tumors requiring emergency treatment.
All were in treatment for breast cancer, either skipping their doses of Gleevec or rationing them in the hopes of making one prescription last longer. After treatment, they recovered without life-threatening consequences, but with newly larger cancers that were likely to cause further trouble down the road. It’s usually more expensive for both insurers and patients in the long run to stop and start treatment, since allowing a cancer to recur demands more intensive treatments and can lead to further complications but when you have to choose between medicine and food due to a lost job or other hardship, what choice do you have but to try to feed your family and keep your home? Not only that, but going back into intensive treatment, with its physical and mental demands, makes it even harder to find a new job.
It’s to everyone’s benefit to keep those struggling with cancer in treatment, so they have the energy to work and live as vital parts of our communities and our families, and, on the most basic financial level, so they can find a way back to work to support themselves and to avoid greater medical costs for all Americans. And as always, it’s our hope at Angel to keep everyone we can from having to make those impossible choices.